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» 02/24/2010
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
War of words over the Cave of the Patriarchs between Netanyahu and Abbas
by Joshua Lapide
Abbas’ reaction is “hypocritical”, Netanyahu’s decision is a “provocation”; all because the israeli PM decided to add Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs to Israel’s list of national heritage sites. Palestinians fear it is just another land grab. Jewish settlers and nationalists are happy with Netanyahu’s decision.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have traded accusations over the former’s decision to include certain Jewish holy sites in the West Bank to its list of national heritage sites. The sites in question are Rachel’s Tomb (Bethlehem) and the Cave of the Patriarchs (Hebron), both of which are also venerated by Muslims.

For the Palestinian leader, Netanyahu’s decision is "a serious provocation” that delays peace talks and could further poison relations between the two peoples. For Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Office, Abbas is conducting “a false and hypocritical campaign. [. . .] Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs are burial sites of Israel's forefathers [. . .] and are definitely worthy of preservation and renovation."

The Cave of the Patriarchs, which Muslims call the al-Ibrahim Mosque, is said to contain the remains of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their wives, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. For decades, the site has been a source of tensions. About 500 Jewish settlers live nearby, in a Palestinian city of 170,000. In 1994, a Jewish settler killed 29 Palestinian worshippers. Since then, the place has been divided into areas for each group.

Rachel, Jacob’s favourite wife, is said to be buried at a site near Bethlehem. It too has been the source of conflict.

Israel's West Bank barrier juts far into Bethlehem so that the tomb is located on the Israeli side, and this, for Palestinians, constitutes a land grab.

Jewish settlers and nationalists, who oppose giving up control of any of the West Bank, said they were pleased with Mr Netanyahu's announcement and that they would press for additional biblical sites to be added to the list.


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See also
08/21/2010 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
Scepticism over "direct" dialogue between Israel and Palestine
by Joshua Lapide
04/02/2010 ISRAEL – PALESTINE
Israeli raid in Gaza injures three children as Jerusalem prepare for Easter under tight security
01/03/2009 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
Day of prayer tomorrow, for peace in Holy Land
09/16/2010 ISRAEL – PALESTINE
Jewish settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem hindering Israeli-Palestinian talks
09/28/2010 ISRAEL – PALESTINE
Settlements hastening the fusion of Israel and Palestine into a single state
by Arieh Cohen

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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